“She’s Leaving Home” has always been my favorite Beatles song. I was absolutely spellbound 19 years ago in Atlantic City when I witnessed Paul McCartney deliver the sonic tale of a young woman slipping out of her parents’ home to meet the love of her life.
I’ve always been a sucker for McCartney’s songs, which masterfully manipulate emotion, such as “Golden Slumbers,” “Here, There and Everywhere” and “Eleanor Rigby.” I sung the former to my daughter Jillian when she was about to call it a night in her crib and played the other Beatles classics throughout her childhood. All of those memories recently returned.
Jillian is leaving home. Well, she already left four years ago when she enrolled at Pace University to study communications. However, I expected her to be one of the myriad boomerang kids who returned after graduating and perhaps stayed a while. I tried to sell Jillian on Spokane since she loves Riverfront Park, the burgers at Post Street Ale House and Manito Park. “But I have to get a job,” Jillian said.
Since Jillian, 22, is hellbent on working in music publicity, I asked folks at some of the local venues about any opportunities. Nothing matched since Jillian lacks experience. Well, that’s being taken care of since Jillian recently signed on as a publicity assistant with the communications firm the Oriel Co., which represents recording artists such as the Killers, the Arctic Monkeys and her favorite, Phoebe Bridgers, among other notables.
It’s back to New York for Jillian, and I’m very proud of her since she followed the plan that was devised when she was a senior in high school. Jillian had to attend school in an industry town and land two to three solid internships. Mission accomplished. However, so much for the best laid plans.
During her first internship, she became best friends with one of the employees. Jillian hoped for more, and it happened, albeit two years later, after she graduated in May. Just two months later, she and Dan are moving into an apartment in Brooklyn.
My family likes her boyfriend, but I can’t help but be concerned. When I met Dan in June, I was incredulous when the music obsessive announced that he prefers Hootie and the Blowfish over the Smiths and Sonic Youth. “The Smiths are sad boy music, and Sonic Youth are boring,” he proclaimed.
“What other recording artists do you hate that changed the face of music?” I asked as the Caesar salad was passed. Iconic Smiths frontman Morrissey was mentioned during a recent interview I had with Jakob Dylan. I couldn’t help but detail my dinner discussion with Dan.
“Your investment in music is different than most people, that’s what you write about,” Dylan explained. “But for most people, there’s radio. Radio is for people who don’t like music. They want to be fed the same thing they like over and over again. It’s a very pessimistic view.
“A lot of people don’t need music the way you do or I do. They need it as a distraction. That’s fine, too. Some people are easily pleased and not moved by music to the level you might be or I might be. You know what? I like sad boy music, and boring music has a great place in my catalog.”
Dylan and I discussed how the Smiths songs aren’t actually sad but amusing. Dan possesses more than 5,000 albums, but almost all of them have been bargain buys or were snatched up for free. So the vinyl is less than pristine.
I informed my daughter that those albums don’t count. Virtually all my vinyl was once new. “Vinyl to me is like a foul ball at a baseball game,” I explained to my daughter. “I’ve caught 18 baseballs off the bat at major league games. Those balls are perfect, just like my vinyl. There are dings in foul balls that bounce all over the concrete, like used vinyl. Damaged foul balls aren’t the same as a foul ball off the bat.”
Alright, I’ll admit it. Vinyl is vinyl. I’m just being difficult since, well, it’s not easy to hand over my daughter. Somebody has to grow up, but it’s not her. Regarding their relationship, it’s like the line in the Smith’s “Girlfriend in a Coma” – it’s serious. If Jillian ends up marrying Dan, I’m already envisioning my speech. “The good news is that the average length of a marriage is 8.2 years, which means Jillian can choose again.”
My daughter explained to me that the father of the bride doesn’t speak, or, to my surprise, pick the song for the father-daughter dance. Who knew? Jillian detailed that Dan and I have much in common since he loves music and baseball. We travel in a similar manner since we cram so much into a day. I’m not a self-loathing guy. Maybe I should give this guy, who seems decent, a break.
It’s ironic since my children have been raised to become as independent as possible, but now that it’s time to cut an invisible umbilical cord, I can’t help but become melancholy. My daughter and I have been looking back at memories of my parents, her relationship with her siblings and music and baseball.
While interviewing Pat Boone 18 years ago, the pop singer lamented that when he belted out his old hit “April Love,” there wasn’t anyone in his audience young enough to serenade. “Wait, didn’t you mention you have a young daughter?” Boone asked. “Can you bring her to the show and bring her up onstage when I sing ‘April Love?’ ”
Jillian complied and received a bouquet while Boone emoted. My parents, who were in the audience, loved it. It’s been a blast going down memory lane looking back at Jillian’s encounters with her favorites, Fiona Apple, Brandi Carlile and Willie Nelson. Each personalized a note to Jillian.
“From One Red Headed Stranger to Another,” Wilson wrote aptly on the cover of his classic album, “Red Headed Stranger.” “To Beautiful Jillian” is Apple’s message after she took endless photos with my daughter after a VH1 concert with Elvis Costello in Atlantic City in 2005.
The first two baseball games Jillian attended were at Fenway Park. Her first game had to be special, so she witnessed Roger Clemens return to Boston as a Yankee, and the second contest was a masterful two-hit shutout by Red Sox legend Pedro Martinez.
It’s fitting that in about one week, Dan is taking Jillian to Fenway. The giveaway is a bobblehead of enigmatic hitting savant Manny Ramirez, who was part of those turn-of-the-century Red Sox squads. Life has gone full circle, and how can I be anything but excited for Jillian, who has hit all of her benchmarks and then some. As one chapter ends, another begins, and I wish Jillian the best as she continues her journey.
Images of “She’s Leaving Home” no longer cloud my head when I envision the next phase of Jillian’s life. I hear McCartney’s “The Long and Winding Road,” which she will navigate with grace and aplomb. Best of luck in Gotham, Jillian!
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